Posts Tagged ‘onFood’

VegEats! A Rationale

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

The poster for the wonderful documentary by Robert Kenner - a must-see!

VegEats is a Campus Clipper column where we discuss the benefits of vegan/vegetarian-friendly eating in New York City and find ways for students to eat healthy and be environmentally friendly with their food while still saving money.

I want to share with you why I went veg. I am not trying to tell you to make the same choice. But most students who move to New York City encounter a much larger number of vegetarians and vegans than they have before, and I want to offer an idea of why someone might have chosen this diet/lifestyle. And for those of you who might be considering going veg, I hope to give you some things to consider and some advice. I went veg because I researched and educated myself about how eating animals and animal byproducts affected my health, the health of the planet, and the life of the animals. What I learned upset me and made me not want to use my money to support a system that has so many negative consequences. (If you would like to educate yourself, there are a abundance of resources online. I would personally recommend the site goveg.com, as well as other resources like Robert Kenner’s excellent 2008 documentary Food, Inc.)

But I think the reason I was successful in going veg and have felt so good about the decision is I didn’t make any changes too quickly and allowed myself to work at my own timeline. There’s a term in psychology, cognitive dissonance, which means the uncomfortable feeling you get by trying to maintain two contradictory ideas simultaneously. I was brought up, like many others, believing it’s okay to eat animals. But as I learned more about the consequences of this action, I increasingly found reasons why it wasn’t. Over time, months and months, my discomfort grew so that when I ate meat or cheese or eggs, I didn’t feel good about it. The food didn’t seem satisfying anymore.

Even once I decided to actually change my diet, I did it in baby steps: I gave up red meat, then waited a few months, then gave up turkey, then waited; and when I began to consider veganism, I went on “practice runs” every few months for over a year, adopting a complete vegan diet for longer and longer periods of time. During both of these process’, I was careful to note what cravings I had and what foods assuaged them. For example, when I went vegetarian, I kept a jar of crunchy peanut butter within reach at all times – I even had one under my bed with a spoon! Whenever I was feeling sluggish or craving a cheeseburger, I ate a big scoop of crunchy PB. Almost immediately I trained my body to crave peanuts when it needed protein instead of meat; it’s amazing how quickly and easily the body will adapt to changes we make as long as we are attentive to it and make sure it gets what it needs.

I paid attention to how hungry or not hungry I felt, my energy levels, how well I was sleeping, my mood, everything. Diet is probably one of the easiest ways to change your whole life, for better or worse; making huge sudden changes and expecting your body to immediately adjust is a recipe for disaster. By the time I was fully vegetarian and fully vegan, I no longer had any craving for those foods – I knew what my body could use to replace them, and I liked being able to eat food that was not only delicious but good for me, animals, and the planet.

If you are interested in going vegetarian or vegan, that’s great – I’ll have more advice about that in future posts. But even if you’re not, college is an important time for your diet. For many of us, this is the first time we’re deciding what’s for dinner, and that’s actually a really important decision. The quality and quantity of food you put into your body affects you physically and in a multitude of other ways – underestimating the importance of a healthy diet is a huge mistake too many students make. Please research your food – where does it come from, how is it prepared, what nutrients, fats, and calories does it contain, and how will these properties affect you. Knowledge is power, so do what you came to college to do: learn.

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VegEats! An Introduction

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Veggies: delicious, nutritious, and cheap!

Hi everyone! My name is Jon, and I’m going to be offering some guidance into the wonderful world of vegan/vegetarian-friendly eating in New York City. For those who aren’t sure, a vegetarian is a person who restricts consumption of meat and animal byproducts. There are several types of vegetarians: pesco-vegetarians, who include fish in their diets; pollo-vegetarians, who include poultry; ovo-vegetarians, who include eggs; and lacto-vegetarians, who include dairy products. These prefixes can be combined. For example, when I officially started identifying myself as a vegetarian three years ago, I was a ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

About two months ago, I began identifying myself as a vegan, which is a strict vegetarian (absolutely no meat or animal byproducts) who extends this philosophy beyond diet into other parts of life. This means vegans don’t use products made from materials like leather, silk, or wool, because these materials rely on animals and animal captivity to be made. Vegans also only use man-made sponges and avoid substances like gelatin, an ingredient in most marshmallows and derived from collagen found in animal bones, or beeswax, commonly used to make candles and produced over a long period of time by bees as an essential part of their home. This lifestyle may sound a little extreme to those who have not encountered veganism before, but when adopted mindfully for the right reasons, it can be a wonderful positive change for many people.

So you may be saying to yourself, well, now I know what they don’t eat; what DO they eat? I eat primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, as well as artificial animal-free products such as tofu. When eating out, I often go for Indian, Chinese, Israeli, Thai, or Mexican, as these cuisines offer lots of delicious vegan options, or I go to one of the multitude of vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurants in New York City. Many people when hearing about this diet have concerns about health, primarily about protein and iron deficiency. Vegetarianism and veganism are actually very healthy as long as the practitioner eats a variety of foods, pays attention to intake of nutrients, fats, and calories, and stays active, (which is true of any lifestyle.) In fact, studies have shown that limiting meat and animal byproducts can significantly lower your chances of major health problems, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity, diabetes, even Alzheimer’s! The average American eats nearly double the amount of protein they need per day, and veg-eaters have numerous alternative to meat and animal byproducts to find protein, iron, and all other essential nutrients.

I’m so excited to help you find ways to eat healthy on a student’s budget. New York can be expensive, but there are lots of tricks to up your nutrients, help the environment, and keep your wallet (and belly) full. To get you started, Campus Clipper has wonderful coupons for great veg-friendly restaurants like Atlas Café, Indian Taj, Monster Sushi, Tahini, Wild Ginger, and many more! Check them out on the coupons page! Happy Eating!

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In the City that Always Eats

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

For a city that never sleeps, New York City is where you can find food at every corner. Whether you find food at a street vendor, a sidewalk cafe, an upscale restaurant, or the latest popular burger joint, you will inevitably be faced with daily decisions of which of the thousands of restaurants you will travel to for something delicious, something budget friendly, or something to give you endurance for a long night of studying. As a student in the big apple, these choices may seem overwhelming, and tempt you into turning the $1 pizza store across from your dorm into your go-to place for all meals. In today’s technology age, there are so many great resources for finding great deals and budget conscious ways to keep you from being a starving college student, that you can surely have a diverse culinary experience while in New York.

Before resorting to the internet to start frantically searching for great lunch deals and hot date spots, use your eyes to spot places you may want to dine. You will quickly learn that living in New York City means you can always “window shop” for clothes, food, jewelry, and anything else you may need. As you use your feet to get around, instead of a car, you have the opportunity to gaze into the restaurants you have heard so much about already, and get a real-life sense of what your dining experience may be like. And, walk around with a pen and a notepad. Some of the best restaurant and food deals are not advertised on their websites – they are advertised on chalkboards right outside of the restaurant! Take note, and add it to the to-do list.

Soon, I will share more specific details on how to dine out on the town in this fabulous city that always eats. But for now, I encourage you to be aware of your surroundings, and take note when you see a slice of pizza that is extra cheesy, a quaint neighborhood cafe, or a bustling hot spot. There are 365 days a year, and 4 years of college. Just think of all the great eating you can do!

-Kerry H

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Di Fara

Monday, May 10th, 2010

It’s the first blog post and introductions are in order. My name is Sabina, and I’m an upcoming sophomore at NYU. I’ll be writing this summer about some of the restaurants New York has to offer, as well as some of the interesting events students can afford to attend in the city. I hope to cover a little of everything—from museums to taco stands, baklava to free concerts, community gardens to pierogis. I am always open to suggestions, so feel free to send some in via email or respond to anything I post. I’m starting off with one of the best-known culinary spots in New York—the famous Di Fara Pizza of Brooklyn.
This past Sunday I finally gathered the right group of people and enough motivation to head out to the famous pizzeria, claimed by many to be the home of the best slices the East Coast has to offer. It’s a 40-minute schlep on the Q to Avenue J from my nearby 14th Street Union Square stop, but after such hype I decided to brave the unusually cold Sunday weather and make the trek. Luckily I went with some friends who had been before, and therefore insisted we leave by 11. We arrived at 11:45 and were the third party in line.
Without the people waiting outside, the small pizzeria would fail to stand out against the low-key corner of Midwood, a neighborhood spotted with Jewish bakeries and a few bagel stops. Once inside, however, the characteristics that distinguish the small restaurant became apparent. For one, lines can start forming 1-2 hours before opening. The counter-space was crowded with no semblance of a line, and there were not nearly enough chairs or tables to accommodate the eager customers. Although the lack of comfort can infuriate some restaurant enthusiasts, I’ve always been drawn to a small establishment willing to retain its old atmosphere. As a friend noted, the cheap napkins indicated where priorities lied.
Only one man, Domenico DeMarco, handles the pizzas, which are made of ingredients shipped exclusively from Italy and Israel. While his son was on hand to take orders, Domenico was the only one drizzling on the olive oil or pulling the bubbling dough from the oven to check if it was done. Other special touches included the three types of cheeses hand-grated directly onto the hot crust, and the basil leaves clipped straight off the stems. We bought two pies (it is far more expensive to order by the slice) and waited about 20 minutes for them after ordering.
I’m not a huge pizza enthusiast, but Di Fara’s slices were certainly the best I’ve had in New York. After we brought the hot pies to the table, no one spoke as they made their way through their three slices. The biggest pizza connoisseur of us all had four.
Part of the fun of making your way down to Di Fara’s is to watch Domenico handle his ingredients. If you’re not down for waiting, or want to be sure you’ll get a table, the ride on the Q might not be worth it. Many worry the small restaurant has turned into a tourist-trap (there were a couple of overbearing camera wielders), but if you can’t stand the customers, take a pizza to go and find a nice spot outside. The fresh ingredients alone are worth it.

-Sabina A

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